DPW still seeking more funding for stormwater work

SOUTHWICK – The Select Board and DPW Director Randy Brown discussed the updated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater permit.

The stormwater plan is a part of the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Stormwater Permit that is mandated through the federal government but administered by the Massachusetts DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The permit gives communities requirements to follow and complete with their stormwater plan.

Although the town has had a stormwater permit since 2003, a new permit was put into effect on July 1, 2018 and ends in June. The current permit has more extensive and demanding requirements.

The Select Board is seen discussing the updated storm water permit. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

According to Brown, the town has been able to do very little of the tasks required by EPA and DEP for year one. Despite that, the town has completed some public education and outreach.

One of the tasks is to update stormwater mapping, which can take several years to do. It involves locating stormwater structures in Southwick using GPS coordinates, taking samples of weather flows, and testing for any potential contaminants.

A major reason why many of those tasks haven’t been done is due to the lack of funding that the Select Board is able to appropriate at this time. At the meeting on Tuesday night, the Select Board did say that they’ve agreed to put a certain dollar amount aside in order for the DPW to have some of the tasks completed but it’s not yet specified what that amount is.

Recently receiving a letter from EPA and DEP that Southwick hasn’t kept up with the requirements thus far with year one, they’ve asked Brown to modify his notice of intent in order to make sure the town can keep up with the tasks they’re required to. However, Brown knows that tasks can only be completed depending on the funding that he receives from the town.

“Whatever budget I get, we’ll utilize,” said Brown. “I need so much to do the terms of the task.”

In May of 2018, Brown requested $120,000 from the Select Board to help fund the first year of the program but the board declined that request. Brown has projected that the program could cost around $1 million over five years.

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